“There is a great necessity for more doctors and nurses at the Front”

Five doctors from Newbury volunteered to go to treat the wounded.

The local doctors are responding well in their country’s need: Drs Graham, Coplestone, Heywood, Parsons, and Thompson, having volunteered their services and having been accepted: there is evidently a great necessity for more doctors and nurses at the Front, and we would not grudge their going to tend the brave men who are doing and suffering so much for us.

We hope that the Magazine will be in the hands of our readers by Sunday, October 3rd: in that case may we remind them that it is the Sunday of our Harvest Thanksgiving, and express the hope that they will not fail to attend church, and also make some tangible return to God for His Mercies… Any gifts of fruit or vegetables will be devoted to the wants of the Navy, for which Mr H Godding collects so assiduously – and we should remember that we owe a very great deal to the Navy just now.

We hope that during the winter months our thoughts will be not too much distracted by the war, and that the Church’s work will be carried on all the more earnestly.

Newbury parish magazine, October 1915 (D/P89/28A/13)

Great difficulty finding doctors on account of the war

The demands of the war hospitals led to a shortage of doctors. Luckily for the Community of St John Baptist, one of the Sisters was a qualified doctor.

26 August 1915
Sister Bertha Margaret took Sister Emily Barbara to Folkestone as an invalid. Sister Bertha Margaret had to be both Infirmarian and Doctor, as there was the greatest difficulty in finding doctors on account of the war; & she is fully qualified to act as such, & has done so for many years before coming to Clewer.

CSJB Annals (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

Doctors take leave of absence to help the wounded

Berkshire County Council was prepared to lose its TB and Medical Officers to allow them to provide medical care to wounded soldiers. One of the resulting vacancies was filled by a local woman doctor.


Referring to the urgent appeal by Sir Alfred Keogh on behalf of the War Office for medical men for Army Service during the period of the war, Dr Richmond, the Tuberculosis Officer and Acting County Medical Officer of Health, is anxious to offer his services if the Council can see their way to grant him the necessary leave of absence. In view of the urgency of the demand and the importance of providing the Military Authorities with all possible help, the Public Health and Housing Committee do not wish to place any obstacle in the way of Dr Richmond’s acceptance of an Army appointment.

They are of opinion that temporary arrangements for the continuance of the work of the Public Health Department during the absence of both Dr Taylor and Dr Richmond can be made, and suggest that Dr Sisam (Acting Medical Officer of the West Berks Combined Sanitary District) be asked to undertake the principal administrative duties of County Medical Officer of Health, and Dr Carling (Medical Officer of the Berks and Bucks Joint Sanatorium) the duties of Tuberculosis Officer, both doctors being well qualified to carry on the work. The Office staff would be able to deal with routine work.

Dr Richmond’s Army pay will be 24/- a day and under the Council’s resolution, if permission be given to him to join H M Forces, the deduction from his salary would be at the rate of £438 per annum.
Both Dr Carling and Dr Sisam have been approached and have expressed their willingness to undertake the duties provided the consent of their respective Joint Committees can be obtained as they are both whole-time officers. Dr Sisam has declined to accept any remuneration, but as the work would, in many cases, be done in conjunction with his own work as District Medical Officer of Health, and complications might arise in the allocation of his travelling expenses, he has asked that a fixed sum be allowed him for travelling; and is willing to accept £1 10s a week. The Public Health and Housing Committee recommend that his offer be accepted.
With reference to Dr Carling, it is recommended that a bonus at the rate of £100 a year be made to her and travelling expenses in accordance with the Council Scale….

The Committee are of the opinion that Miss Nicholls, the Lady Inspector, could be utilised, with advantage, for some of the home visiting, and recommend that she be paid an additional remuneration for the extra work at the rate of £25 a year.

Report of Staff Purposes Sub-committee to Berkshire County Council, 1 May 1915 (C/CL/C1/1/18)

Death of an oculist

Queen Victoria Institute for District Nursing, Reading, provided nursing care for local people in their own homes.  The demand for trained nurses for war work naturally had an impact on its work:

12 November 1914
Temporary Help
The Lady Superintendent had obtained the services of Miss Gill and Miss Sweetapple, the two ladies who had been at the Institute before as temporary helpers, and who it was hoped would be able to stay until the return of Miss Jones and Miss Linton from their territorial duties.

One place which was likely to attract nurses was the small hospital for wounded soldiers, which Florence and Henry Vansittart Neale planned to open at their home Bisham Abbey.

12 November 1914
Henry & I to London… to Red X place about our hospital. Saw nice man & filled up papers for W.O. [War Office].

No special news. The “Niger” sunk off Dover.

Heard shocking story of death of a Windsor oculist who went to the front as an ordinary doctor. While on the field tending some wounded soldiers some Germans came & bayoneted him & the wounded.

I hear from our Terriers at Chelmsford they are all 12 miles nearer the coast & digging miles of trenches.

Queen Victoria Institute for District Nursing minutes (D/QX23/1/2, p. 143); diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)